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The White Girl Who Went As Snoop Dogg

"If you acknowledge racism, then aren't you the one being racist?" she screamed at me, the underage, drunken fury leaking out of her mouth.

It was then that she shot me in the temple with an airsoft gun, before finding her boyfriend, dressed as James Dean, demanding that I be forcibly removed from the party.

"Her costume isn't racist! And you're not even black!" her friend yelled, waving her own airsoft pistol in my face.

"She's wearing black face!" I countered, trying to decide the median age of the people there.

"She's dressed as Snoop Dogg!"

Someone has been teaching a group of kids that our society is post-racial. That since we have a black man in office, that discussions of race are in-and-of themselves passé and, as the two drunk girls dressed as their favorite rappers said, racist.

These kids grew up knowing that one black kid in their class - the guy everyone wanted to be friends with so that they could openly and freely say "nigga," and if anyone gave them flack for it, could point to them and say "LOOK! MY FRIEND IS BLACK!"

Affluence breeds this idea that as long as you don't talk about something, it doesn't exist, like racism, wealth disparity, or your parent's alcoholism.

But outside of the suburbs, in a city that is racially divided, segmented by neighborhood, can a blonde, white girl dress up as a black man?

In Wrigleyville, she could get away with it. Sure, she probably got dressed at the party. Sure, she wasn't going to walk outside and find out just how accepted her painted brown skin would be, paired with her doo rag. But in a neighborhood as outstandingly white as the North Side drunk spot, she wouldn't face too hard a consequence. Would she be willing to go south, though? To get on the Red Line, sitting, waiting, as faces of all colors climbed onto the train? Would she feel their stares bore into the side of her face, as she desperately looked out of the window, trying not to see their reflections? Or would no one think anything of it?

When I was a freshman in college, my roommate decided to go as the color black for Halloween. He wore all black clothes, painted his face black, dyed his hair black, and could disappear into dark corners. It was a strange costume - just a color - but it was interesting and we thought nothing of it. Walking to Jim's Original, just south of Roosevelt and Halsted, past a congregation of weekend fast-food seekers, he ran into a bit of trouble.

The crowd, probably 30 people, mostly black, stopped their conversations, mouths agape, looking at him. The cooks in the restaurant, a mix of black and Latino, wouldn't look at him, wouldn't take his order. The security guard came over to him, looked him up and down and said "I think your racist ass should leave."

What would they think of this new drunk girl, dressed not as the color black, but as a person who is black?

Halloween has always been the holiday where people get away with dressing however they want. If girls want to be a scantily clad version of Darth Vader, fine. If boys want to dress up as an obscure reference to a children's show they watched that was cancelled after one episode, whatever. But there is always a line. I don't think acknowledging that line is in itself racist, just as I don't believe that the girl dressed as Snoop Dogg was being intentionally racist (even though I may not have accurately conveyed that belief to her).

I look at the idea of racial sensitivity in a strange light. I'm half Latino, the last name of a Puerto Rican, the complexion of a German. I know that racism exists, that my father and his family dealt with it, but that I didn't have to. But still, I recognize the deep, personal identity that comes with race, and it's something important.

So, no, drunk girl. I am not black. But I see why your costume made my friend, the black guy standing next to me, shift uncomfortably whenever you walked into the room.


Comments welcome.


Posted on October 29, 2011

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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